Colorado student athletes, coaches and administrators are working together to make videos that combat homophobia and bullying in sports and promote the inclusion of all students.
The Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) has partnered with the You Can Play project to raise awareness about issues that have long been a problem in sports.
“We decided we need to do more to address bullying, hazing and general mistreatment of kids on kids as it relates to athletics and teams,” CHSAA commissioner Paul Angelico told ABCNews.com. “We recognize the fact that sports are supposed to be a unifying activity, not a dividing activity, so we began searching for some way to address the problem.”
You Can Play’s mission, according to their website, is to ensure “equality, respect and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation.”
In a sample video CHSAA made with the Colorado school, student athletes stand in front of other student athletes and talk about inclusion.
“Some of my best friends are my teammates and I will do anything to help them succeed. That includes accepting them, whether they are gay or straight,” students in the video say, alternating lines. “Regardless of their race, religion or background. None of that matters to me. What does matter is heart, talent and skill.”
“Not all teams look the same and not all teams play the same way. But we all want the same thing. We want to win,” the students say. “Anyone that helps us win is welcome on our team. If you can play, you can play.”
Angelico said the hope is the videos will be fun and educational.
“We were trying to approach this from the standpoint that there’s a lot of kids that would like to stand up to bullying, hazing or harassment, but don’t know how or have permission,” he said. “Not only do you have permission, you have an obligation.”
Schools can submit videos between Nov. 8, 2013, and Feb. 15, 2014. A panel will select winners for cash and other prizes.
“It’s really not about what they’ll win, but hopefully they’ll learn a whole bunch of stuff in the making of the video,” Angelico said. ”You don’t treat kids [badly] because they act differently or have a different color skin or speak differently or whatever it may be.”